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Colombia launches exploration of ‘$20 billion Holy Grail of shipwrecks’

The San Jose, a Spanish galleon sunk in 1708, was not just any ship; it was a floating vault, carrying a wealth estimated at $20 billion in modern currency. This vessel, lost in the annals of time, resurfaced in 2015, not with a splash, but with a wave of excitement.

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The San Jose’s final voyage was not meant to end at the ocean’s floor. Engaged in a fierce battle with British forces during the War of Spanish Succession, the galleon and its 600-strong crew succumbed to the sea, taking with it a fortune in gold and jewels.

For centuries, the San Jose was the subject of legend, a submerged treasure chest lying in wait.

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The discovery of the wreck was a historical milestone, but it also marked the beginning of a complex legal and ethical battle. Ownership claims over the treasure have entangled the Colombian and Spanish governments, along with other interested parties, in a web of negotiations and disputes, reports bbc.co.uk.

The question of who lays rightful claim to the sunken riches has yet to find a definitive answer.

Colombia, asserting its sovereignty, has taken proactive steps to explore and preserve the site. The Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History has employed advanced technology, including remote sensors and underwater drones, to map the wreck and its surroundings.

The area has been designated a protected archaeological zone, safeguarding it from looters and ensuring a methodical approach to its study.

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The Colombian government, under President Gustavo Petro, has expressed intentions to recover the galleon before the end of his term in 2026.

While historians undoubtedly find the vessel intriguing, the prospect of uncovering $20 billion worth of treasure is the primary catalyst for the accelerated exploration efforts.

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Zoe Mitchell

Zoe Mitchell is an independent researcher and writer specializing in extraordinary topics. With a degree in journalism, she delves into the mysteries that lie beyond the surface of our reality.